Before, google or companies used to run complex software systems manually. These companies would appoint individuals to build software components. Software components helped in producing a service. Such individuals were called system administrators. They would run the service, respond to events and give an update about it. With time, traffic grew, and work became very difficult. Now the system had become more complex. 

The conflict between the operation team and product development department

The operation team and development team had contrasting goals and targets. They couldn’t reach common ground, when to and how fast to release the software to production. The task of the development team was to launch new features which new users could adopt. And the operation team had the task of ensuring that smooth services were running.

However, the operation team had a hard time running its task smoothly. The task would not run smoothly because of the launch of new features. A new feature would interrupt the services. So, they had constant conflicts with each other.

Solution of the Conflict

Benjamin Treynor Sloss coined the idea of the Site Reliability Engineering team (2003). He joined google and was asked to run a production team. This team has matured to become Google’s present-day SRE team.

What is Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)?

SRE consists of principles and operations that incorporate aspects of software engineering. It applies these aspects of software engineering to developmental and operational issues. It targets establishing an authentic and scalable software system. Particularly, site reliability engineering is the implementation of DevOps. DevOps refers to the actions that combine software development and IT operations.

Who is a Site Reliability Engineer?

A site reliability engineer is a software engineer or someone with a similar qualification. As a result of their considerable skills, they enable high-quality software systems. Such systems help in solving complex problems. Also, these systems can design and implement automation. 

In short, site reliability engineers create a bridge between development and operation. They apply the idea of ​​software engineering to system management issues. They spend time on system operations and developments that improve site reliability. As a result, site performance also gets better. 

Google has set a 50% upper limit to SRE operations and developments. In this way, the operation team can deliver stable and operational service. It enables services to run and repair on their own. So, the software can complete development tasks and a small number of operating roles in time. 

The ultimate goal of SRE, as per Google, is to automate work. An important way to do this is to create self-service tools for groups of service-dependent users (automatic test environment provision, logging, statistical visualization, etc.). Automation reduces the ongoing work of all parties. It allows developers to focus on feature development and on the next task to be automated. 

SRE works with product developers to ensure that the designed solution meets requirements. Such as availability, performance, security, and maintainability. 

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Roles and Responsibilities of Site Reliability Engineer

Producing a reliable software 

A site reliability engineer implements his technical skills in building reliable software. The SRE mainly focuses on creating software that caters to customer needs. They make sure that all the services are available to the customers. They build tools from scratch to improve software’s efficiency and management. They do everything to make the software reliable, from making adjustments to monitoring and alerting code changes in production. 

Fixing Support Escalation Issues

Site reliability engineers spend time resolving support escalation cases. However, SRE operations mature over time. As a result, system reliability increases, and fewer incidents occur in production. The SRE team remains in contact with different engineering and IT organizations. They draw immense knowledge from these organizations. Knowledge helps them to route problems to the right humans. 

On-Call Rotation and Process Optimization 

In most cases, an on-site reliability engineer has an on-call rotation. SRE plays a significant role in optimizing the on-call process. Optimization impacts the team’s improvement in system reliability. SRE teams can help add automation and context to notifications. It improves real-time collaboration response from on-call services. Also, site reliability technicians can update software, tools, and documentation. It helps them to prepare response teams for future incidents. 

Documenting Knowledge

The SRE team learns about the system both in deployment and in production. They work in the areas of software development, IT operations, and on-call operations. As a result, they accumulate a lot of historical knowledge over time. They don’t store this knowledge in their minds. Instead, site reliability engineers document their knowledge. They keep on updating the document. It helps them to locate necessary information easily whenever they need it.

Take away

The SRE culture has helped teams run efficient software systems. Reliable software systems reflect that the team has a good workflow system. The Development and Operation team works together and delivers reliable software faster. 

Site reliability engineering has dramatically improved the resilience of people, processes, and technology. The software is quick and efficient in delivering services to customers. Also, it has resulted in shorter feedback loops and better collaboration. It has greatly improved the customer’s on-site experience. Similarly, SRE has equally benefited on-call teams, IT experts, and software developers.

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